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At White House, Sec. Becerra Talks Importance of Child Care in BBB, Hosts Parents and Children

News February 23, 2022

On Tuesday, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra hosted parents and their children at the White House to discuss the challenges of finding quality, affordable child care. In his remarks, Sec. Becerra reinforced the Biden administration’s commitment to including child care and pre-K in the reconciliation package. “We have a responsibility to ensure that child care opportunities are available to parents, and more importantly, to kids,” Sec. Becerra stated. “I think that most of us understand that quality child care is not cheap. It is not easy to find. Build Back Better will be the greatest investment in care that our country will have made in giving our parents peace of mind.”

Statement from First Five Years Fund (FFYF) Executive Director Sarah Rittling following the event: 

“The challenges these parents are facing are the same ones that millions of others across America are struggling with which is that you can’t go to work without child care. So as we think about building a stronger economic future for this country, there’s no question that early care and education is a linchpin to the conversation.”

As U.S. News reports, in the last month, the White House has only increased its focus on early education programs, increasingly highlighting the economic upsides of providing universal child care and prekindergarten. The child care crisis is an American crisis. It’s being reported every day in papers across the country and discussed at kitchen tables because there simply aren’t options for parents and the ones that are available are far too expensive.

Below are some of the stories parents shared at the White House about their child care challenges: 

Daniella Knight (Virginia): “ It’s hard to be the parent you want to be when you’re so tired and so worried. We really need the government to invest in child care and make it affordable, reliable, and accessible to families because I would be able to get to work a lot sooner if accessible child care was a reality. Build Back Better can start to fix that. So many friends and neighbors are going through the same challenge. Everyone was either paying a second mortgage or the parents had to come up with acrobatic ways to work on a 24-hour basis to care for their kids.”

Allison Gilbreath (Virginia): “Families, including ours, pay more than $2,000 a month in child care costs, more than we pay for our mortgage. How many kids are being missed right now? In Virginia alone, one-third of children are living in poverty.”

Sean O’Connor (New Jersey): “My wife and I spend $1,500 a month on Olive’s day care, but I’m learning that that’s not even as high as it goes.”

Allison Gilbreath (Virginia): “In Virginia, there are many child care deserts. While I was pregnant, I asked a provider to put me on the waiting list since I know it’s difficult to find care. But most parents aren’t thinking that far off. It’s unrealistic and the equity issue is prominent, especially for families of color. It sets our kids up to not be on a level playing field when they get to Kindergarten.”

Jessica Morrison (Pennsylvania) detailed her situation, where her husband had a job opportunity he ultimately had to turn down because it was impossible to get their children into care: “I was on the phone for about two days looking for child care. My husband couldn’t start his new job because we didn’t find care.”
The full list of parents and kids who joined Secretary Becerra at the White House were as follows:  

  • Allison Gilbreath and three-year-old son Perry — Virginia 
  • Jessica Morrison and seven-year-old daughter Lana — Pennsylvania 
  • Daniella Knight and her four-year-old son Henrik — Virginia 
  • Sean O’Connor and his 22-month-old daughter Olive — New Jersey

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